Sideglances
by SARAH GREENE
Jul 26, 2013 | 942 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PROF. JAMES WARD LEE has such an impressive resume that the TCU Press, which has just published his book of short stories, A Texas Jubilee, has printed it both on the dust jacket and on an inside page.

It seems that there are book buyers unaware that a dust jacket in mint condition adds considerably to the resale value of a book.

Whatever the reason, the reader will learn that Jim Lee, as he is commonly known, is past president of the Texas Folklore Society. He is author of more than 100 articles, stories and reviews, and author or editor of 10 books. He is founding director of UNT Press and the Center for Texas Studies at UNT.

AS ONE WHO has just finished his entertaining Jubilee book, I am not convinced these are short stories rather than a single novel. I feel justified in quoting from the review written by John Henry Irsfeld, himself a fiction writer.

He expounds:

“The thirteen captivating stories here cover the years from 1928 to 1945 and feature various citizens of Bodark Springs, a small town in Eastis County, Texas just south of the Red River. The recurring characters in the stories mature, grow old, and in some cases die as the time passes from the beginning of the Great Depression to VJ Day.

“They—like the town itself—change, but remain recognizable to the end: they are conflicted, funny, crazy, humble, full of themselves, generous, hateful, loving—in short, they remain fully human and thus flawed even as the social fulcrum of the paired great historical events that envelop them urge them toward a post-WWII future none of them could have imagined.

“Neither Bodark Springs nor Eastis County can be found on an Internet search nor on any map but the one in James Ward Lee’s imagination, but they are real. To quote Ishmael referring to Queequeg’s home island ‘far away to the West and South. It is not down in any maps; true places never are.’”

FOR THE information of those whose interest in Texas geography includes the real as well as the imaginative, Eastis County is one of five (four real) that are situated along a line just south of the line that runs from Clarksville to Paris. That puts it in far North Texas, and not East Texas, to this East Texan’s way of thinking.
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